Dealing with the quarter-century crisis |

Dealing with the quarter-century crisis

Emily Aughinbaugh

I told myself I’d only stay a year.

It’s been a year and one month since I moved out to Lake Tahoe from my Indiana home and I don’t seem too anxious to get out of here, at least not today.

The question of moving and moving on plagues me every day though. What am I doing, where am I going and how do I get there?

Being just a couple months shy of 24 and working with a staff mostly in their 20s and early 30s I have realized we may be on different paths, but most of us are all going through the same phenomenon. We’ve hit the quarter-life crisis.

From the snowboard shop worker to the gal working her way up the corporate ladder, they probably all question their plight. Maybe people of all ages do this from time to time, but it seems to be a such a natural question for adults to ponder who’ve graduated college within the last 10 years.

I’m asked all the time by sources who are older than me, “So, Emily what are your plans after you leave the Tribune, or do you plan to stay in journalism?”

I don’t think I’ve ever asked that 40- or 50-something, “Hey Joe Schmo, do you want to work at TRPA all your life?”

Sure by the time we get that old, the common theory is we should have sweated out those years of insecurity and uncertainty at 20-something. Well let me out of the quarter-life sauna because I’m not ready to work through those awkward feelings yet.

I don’t know what I’m doing, I don’t have a husband or any prospects (quite another topic), and I’m not sure if L.A. or Boston is calling me. Do I have to know, and by what age?

These may seem like silly questions but they’re all issues we mull over, whether it’s over coffee at work or drinks at the bar. It permeates our life, and comes down to the same answer every time, “We don’t know what the hell we’re doing.”

One thing we do know is we won’t be satisfied working an eight-to-five job we hate, like many of our parents have done.

With corporate downsizing and economic instability we know all too well we’re an expendable commodity, which equals a lack of company loyalty.

In the book “Quarterlife Crisis,” authors Alexandra Robbins and Abby Wilner found many 35 and unders change jobs every 9 months. They’re sick of the boredom, the monotony, the fear that being comfortable and unchallenged won’t equal happiness, which is my mantra as well.

In the last year I’ve had many conflicting feelings about my life.

I went from the tremendous fear of living on my own in a strange place to loving madly its beauty and the people I’ve met. I still ride that emotional roller coaster, sometimes on a daily basis. But this time I ride with an anxiousness to get out of this town.

But the seductive nature of Tahoe’s breathtaking beauty and small-town charm tend to quiet the raging emotion inside of me and rock me into complacence.

I am content, stable, constant and questioning what it means. It’s the emotional vista I wanted to look from when I first moved and now that it’s here I’m ready to move on again.

In the end, I don’t have any great epiphany only some comfort for those who are in the same crisis stage. Since no one has the answers we should embrace the drama while it’s unfolding and take comfort in the things we may take for granted. The many shades of the sun as it sets over our glassy lake or the first hike on a new trail to a world untouched. If you worry too much about making your future great you could miss these truly awesome wonders of your present.

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